Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Book Review - The Book of Unholy Mischief by Elle Newmark

The Book of Unholy Mischief
Elle Newmark

Unlikely circumstances pull a homeless boy into a mystery he has no interest in. His focus lies in a safe place to sleep, a relatively full belly and a girl. But, this is the year 1498, Venice, Italy and Luciano does as his benefactor - chef to the doge - says. As apprentice to the chef, Luciano discovers there is more than delicious food cooking in the kitchen. The stories he overhears lead him to discover information about a secret book, a book that the doge wants for the magic it contains.

The Book of Unholy Mischief lushly describes Venice at the very beginning of the Renaissance period. The kitchen, the marketplace, the cut-throat politics at play, all are drawn with precise lines and vivid color. Luciano's life is not easy, but it's also never boring. The telling of his story is almost more interesting than the search for the book. Fans of cooking, historical fiction and love stories will enjoy Elle Newmark's The Book of Unholy Mischief.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Book Review - The Weight of Silence by Heather Gudenkauf

The Weight of Silence
Heather Gudenkauf
ISBN # 978-0778327400

Imagine that your 7 year old daughter, and her best friend, have gone missing. It's not unusual for them to hang out together, but there is usually a trusted adult with them.

The Weight of Silence by Heather Gudenkauf is a comedy of tragic errors. Neighbors turn against neighbors in their fear and desperation to find Calli and Petra. Old grievances come to light and new secrets are uncovered. Gudenkauf builds a delicious suspense. You'll be turning the pages quickly, driven to find out what happened to these two little girls. There is a plot twist at the end that will leave you gasping.
(July 2009, pp 384, $13.95)

I was given the opportunity to review The Weight of Silence through Trish at TLC Book Tours. To follow the tour, click any of the links below -

Monday, August 17th: Book, Line, and Sinker

Wednesday, August 19th: Virtual Wordsmith

Thursday, August 20th: Hey Lady! Whatcha Readin’?

Monday, August 24th: Peeking Between the Pages

Wednesday, August 26th: Bookstack

Friday, August 28th: Beth’s Book Review Blog

Monday, August 31st: Sophisticated Dorkiness

Tuesday, September 1st: The 3 R’s: Reading, ‘Riting, and Randomness

Thursday, September 3rd: Word Lily

Monday, September 7th: Jenn’s Bookshelf

Tuesday, September 8th: Book-a-Rama

Thursday, September 10th: Write Meg

The publisher is offering a coupon code SILENCE10 for 10% off, and it’s effective August 1 - September 15 at eHQ for print or digital. The coupon can be redeemed at

Monday, August 17, 2009

A few words from Lev Grossman

I reviewed The Magicians by Lev Grossman a couple weeks ago. I was so impressed with the book that I fired off a few questions (via email) to Mr. Grossman. He was more than kind in taking the time to respond. Read below to find out a little more about Lev and The Magicians.

Please tell us a little bit about yourself.
My name is Lev Grossman. I’m 40. I live in Brooklyn. I have a daughter, Lily, who’s 5. By day I work as the book critic for Time magazine.

While reading The Magicians, I couldn't decide if you were paying homage to J.K. Rowling and C.S. Lewis or thumbing your nose while winking at them. Maybe a bit of both?
Both! Definitely both. That’s the great thing about novels, you don’t have to choose. I love Rowling and Lewis both, but it would be boring for everybody if I wrote just like them. (Which I couldn’t do anyway, if I tried.) So instead I wrote about some of the same things they did, but from a different place, with a different take.

How did The Magicians come to be?
Slowly. I’ve spent my whole life reading fantasy, which I suppose was a way of getting ready to write The Magicians. I took the first notes for it in 1996. I was inspired by Ursula Le Guin’s A Wizard of Earthsea -- the chapters set at the magic school on Roke. Then I put it aside again. I wasn’t ready yet.

Then in 2004 a few different things happened. I read Susanna Clarke’s Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell, and my head pretty much exploded. Also I had a mid-life crisis (divorce, etc.) I had been planning to write a more conventional novel, but I threw it away. The fantasy part of me wouldn’t be quiet anymore. Fantasy was the only way I could think of to talk about what was going on with my real life.

Which authors have inspired you?
On the fantasy side: Lewis and Rowling, obviously, but also TH White, Fritz Leiber, and Larry Niven. And of course Susanna Clarke.

On the literary side: Evelyn Waugh (especially Brideshead Revisited), Donna Tartt (especially The Secret History), and Jonathan Franzen. While I was writing The Magicians I kept a copy of The Corrections on one side of my desk, and a copy of The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe on the other.

What are you reading right now?
I read for a living, so I’m always reading a bunch of different books at once. Right now I’m in the middle of Iain Banks’ Transition (which I’m loving), Nicholson Baker’s The Anthologist (which I wished I were loving but am not particularly yet) and E.L Doctorow’s Homer & Langley (too soon to tell). Also -- not for work, but when I can make time for it -- I’m reading I Remember the Future, a collection of stories by an old friend of mine, Michael Burstein (which I am loving).

Will you be traveling the country to talk about and sign copies of The Magicians?
Yes! New York, Boston, Denver, Chicago, San Francisco, Los Angeles. Maybe more places, if people want. Come see me! I am an enthusiastic but somewhat spazzy public speaker, and I wave my arms around too much. But I’m doing my best.

For more information about The Magicians and Lev Grossman, visit

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Book Incognito on Kindle

I came across this video showing how to keep people from seeing what unsavory titles might be lurking in your Kindle. Watch it, I'll wait.

Ok. Now, while that's a nifty trick, is it a necessity? I could maybe see being discreet if Hustler is one of your regular subscriptions, but feeling as if you must hide your beloved Harlequin romances... not such a big deal.

My biggest complaint about e-readers is not being able to hand off my newest favorite book to my friends. Well, I could, but then what am I going to read?

Are you ever embarrassed about the books you're reading?

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Book Review - The Magicians by Lev Grossman

The Magicians
Lev Grossman
Viking Adult
ISBN # 978-0670020553

"Quentin Coldwater is brilliant but miserable. He's a senior in high school, and a certifiable genius, but he's still secretly obsessed with a series of fantasy novels he read as a kid, about the adventures of five children in a magical land called Fillory.

Everything changes when Quentin finds himself unexpectedly admitted to a very secret, very exclusive college of magic in upstate New York, where he receives a thorough and rigorous education in the practice of modern sorcery. He also discovers all the other things people learn in college: friendship, love, sex, booze, and boredom. But something is still missing. Magic doesn't bring Quentin the happiness and adventure he thought it would."

I loved The Magicians! I giggled, chortled and "ah-hah'ed" outloud through the entire book. My husband kept giving me funny looks, because I'm typically very quiet when I'm reading.

Invariably, The Magicians will be compared to Harry Potter and Narnia. And, of course, I noticed some similarities, too. But, The Magicians is like Harry Potter on steroids - much bigger, deeper and darker (and written better, I think).

Lev Grossman has written a book that tweaks all of my reader buttons - great words, superb writing, books within the book, humor, tragedy, satire and conceit. Do yourself a favor and visit The Magicians Book, it's pure fun for grown-ups.

(August 2009, pp 416, $26.95)